Lunged Nala today in saddle and bitless. She seemed fine in all gaits. Calm with a loose lower lip.
Got on to ride and she was a bit up. The bitless does not seem as sharp in our turns, but we did fine walking and she was relaxed, head down. We trotted and she was up again, neck arched looking around. She would not relax but circled and did figure 8’s just fine.
We cantered and she bucked and hopped a bit. We tried each direction and straight a bit and she was not relaxed to canter at all. I lunged her again and she was up and would not relax. I then hosed her off (she likes a bath) and turned her back out and she ran some more.
So what is making her wound up? It is memories of track training? Being out in a field instead of an arena? Cantering? Going faster? Saddle fit? Leaving dinner? Flies or gnats? (She did shake her head a bit). She got nervous when I yelled at the dog (back , no, stay) or if Patty yells at her dog … So some desensitizing to yelling or loud noises may help.
Anyway seems like I need an arena or a flat area to work her like the beach. She did much better in the arena, not that she is nervous in the field at the walk? She is also in much better shape now so a bit more fit.
I will also try the air filled pad and see if that helps. Seems like 9 weeks is a long time to still be bucking but we have not had much canter work do to rain and footing.
SLOW AND STEADY: I could try to not canter for a while but that just does not seem reasonable to me. I see her doing it at liberty and on the lunge just fine now…so I feel she should be fine with me on her…maybe I am pushing her limits…Maybe I should walk and trot only cantering when she is perfectly calm at the trot.
RIDE EM COWGIRL: I can ride through it but I think we should be past this… And it is not fun to not be able to trust her… When she first did this I would push her through it in the arena and she would settle after trying 2-3x to buck…like she just gave up being a brat.
Can the head tossing today be related to the bitless bridle? I am using one that is slightly too big in the nose band. I meant to wrap the nose band to make it fit more snugly. Maybe I will try the french link again or rubber dee and see how she does. Other options are a short shank English hackamore (I sold mine with a horse I trained, Jed, and he loved it), or a Waterford (I have never used one but I hear it works great).
After more research it may be that she still feels imbalanced at the trot and canter with my extra weight. She has just in the last few weeks gained the strength to balance on the lunge line (with out side reigns). I will try more hill work with her at the walk, while we have hills to work with, and see if that helps.
So the plan is:
1) Lunge to see if she is calm. If not then ground work with toys/poles.
2) If calm at lunge then ride walking and hills mostly. Transitions walk/halt/trot/back on the flat.
3) Once she can go relaxed at the trot then allow her to canter on the straight away a few yards/strides/steps at a time.
I hope for more time at the beach or arena, but the summer schedule is filling up so hauling around is difficult.
Lunged her in the field today and she was relaxed. She did have a few issues with the unlevel ground. Considering moving Nala to another barn for 60-90 days to work her with a round pen and an arena!
I asked a TB race breeder to look at Nala’s pictures and evaluate her for breeding purposes and she said: